What causes tingling lips?

Tingling lips can be the result of peripheral nerve or skin damage in the lips and surrounding tissues. Chemicals, food, and sun exposure can cause burns that lead to tingling lips, and disorders that affect the nerves, such as peripheral neuropathy, may also cause tingling lips.

Common causes of tingling lips

Tingling lips may have several common causes including:

  • Allergic reactions to food
  • Chapped lips
  • Chemical burn
  • Cold sore (herpes simplex virus infection)
  • Exposure to extreme cold or heat
  • Lip injury
  • Sunburn

Disease causes of tingling lips

Tingling lips can also be caused by certain diseases and conditions including:

  • Cancer
  • Cervical spinal stenosis (a disorder of the spine in the neck area, that can cause nerve damage)
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (autoimmune nerve disorder)
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties, and other problems)
  • Shingles (reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains in the body in an inactive state following chickenpox)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)
  • Vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin B12

Serious or life-threatening causes of tingling lips

In some cases, tingling lips may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Cranial nerve trauma
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of tingling lips

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your tingling lips including:

  • Are you currently taking any medications?
  • How long have you had the tingling in your lips?
  • Do your lips tingle all the time?
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?
  • When do your symptoms occur?
  • Are your symptoms worsened or relieved by anything?

What are the potential complications of tingling lips?

Because tingling lips can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Brain damage (if tingling lips are due to a stroke)
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Spread of infection


  1. NINDS paresthesia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paresthesia/paresthesia.htm.
  2. Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm.


What are tingling lips?

Tingling lips, a feeling of “pins and needles” in your lips, can have a number of causes, including chapped lips, allergic reactions to food or facial products, and cold sores. Tingling lips can also be caused by nerve damage from extreme heat or cold or from toxic substances.

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What other symptoms might occur with tingling lips?

Tingling lips may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the lips also involve other body systems.

Lip symptoms that may occur along with tingling lips

Tingling lips may accompany other symptoms affecting the lips including:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves